On your marks… Guide to the Great Manchester Run.

Ben East

Ben East gives us the savvy sprinter’s guide to the Bupa Great Manchester Run

As Britain’s premier 10km running event, the Great Manchester Run welcomes thousands of people into the city every year. And of course, it’s not just a question of turning up in a brightly coloured jogging vest. There’s the pre-run pasta the night before to plan, the energy-packed breakfast, the sights to see en route and, naturally, the best places to recuperate afterwards, medal draped smugly around your neck. Not to mention the most sought-after vantage points for the less active but no less important participants: your supporters!

The night before

Yes, it’s a (smallish) chain restaurant, but for the classic Italian carbo-load the night before the run, San Carlo on King Street West is just about perfect. There’s a range of pastas taking in southern Italian ingredients such as aubergines, tomatoes and basil, but it’s such a friendly, accommodating restaurant they’ll probably tailor a dish to your athletic needs. And, seeing as it’s one of Manchester’s more stylish city centre dining spots, you may even happen upon one of the celebrity runners with exactly the same idea as you. Another good option for a pasta feast is Stock on Norfolk Street – slightly more austere than San Carlo but no less tasty. And for something a little less formal, Croma on Clarence Street does a mean mushroom and goat’s cheese penne. Just stay off the dolci.

Pre-run breakfast

Only you know exactly what fires up your body a couple of hours before a 10km run … and seeing as it’s a Sunday morning, many of Manchester’s best breakfast venues will be shut. But if you’re in one of the later waves, seek out Trof in the Northern Quarter: it’s open at 9am for home-made granola and smoothies in a cool, laid-back setting. If you (or your support team) want something a bit more substantial, hotels are generally open early for breakfast on a Sunday morning; Malmaison’s version is particularly lush and is served up from 8am. And if you want to stay closer to the starting line action, Spinningfields, Manchester’s answer to Canary Wharf (well, sort of), is packed with riverside restaurants and cafes that are open from 8:30 on the race day. Spinningfields will also be showing the race on their big screen, which brings us to…

Vantage points

Probably the easiest place to check out the action – and spot runners you know loping past – is Chester Road (south of Deansgate). There you can see the runners go out towards Old Trafford, and it’s also the home straight on the way back. With the skyscraping Beetham Tower and the warehouse conversions of Castlefield as backdrops, it’s a chance to drink in Manchester new and old – and Castlefield Gallery’s David Osbaldeston exhibition is just around the corner if your attention wanders. But to avoid the inevitable crowds, head to Imperial War Museum North. The iconic Daniel Libeskind design is not just a beautiful building to have at your back, it’s also an inspiring sight for the runners; by this point there’s less than 4km to go. While you’re there, take in the futuristic arts space that kicked off the regeneration of Salford Quays: The Lowry is just across the bridge. And football fans might also like to make a pilgrimage to Manchester United FC, which the run also passes by.

And when it’s all over

There are few more heart-warming sights than the happy faces of Great Manchester Runners recuperating just down the canal path from the finish. Dukes 92 and neighbouring restaurant Albert’s Shed are popular post-run haunts for a reason; if the weather’s nice then cooling down with an al-fresco lunch here is just about unbeatable. Otherwise, there are many outdoor eating and drinking options within striking distance at the aforementioned Spinningfields, which is hosting a Great Manchester Run After Party with live bands, an outdoor bar, DJs and special deals for runners. Italian restaurant Carluccio’s is firing up a Tuscan barbecue, and there will even be post-run stretch routines to help those tired muscles recover. Just around the corner is the new People’s History Museum. Aptly, their current exhibition investigates protesting. Since your body is likely to be doing just that, it’s the perfect way to end race weekend in Manchester.

Bupa Great Manchester Run, Sunday May 16. Runners assemble at Manchester Central, main race starts at 10am. Image: Pete Langdown

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